Great Artesian Basin Springs Project

The Great Artesian Basin is one of the largest underground freshwater resources in the world.

Groundwater discharges naturally from the Great Artesian Basin into springs, lakes, rivers and wetlands. Most discharge areas, such as springs, are found along the basin’s perimeter where water is closer to the surface. Great Artesian Basin springs can support endangered ecological communities and species, known as groundwater dependent ecosystems. GAB springs are listed under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. GAB springs are also listed for protection under the Water Sharing Plan for the NSW Great Artesian Basin Groundwater Sources 2020.The Great Artesian Basin springs project surveys springs fed by groundwater sources, located within the NSW extent of the Basin.

The Great Artesian Basin springs project was initiated to inform the remake of the Great Artesian Basin water sharing plan and to support the documentation of recovering artesian pressure on springs, an offshoot of the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative (1999-2017) and the Cap and Pipe the Bores programs. The project also aligns with the guiding principles of the Commonwealth Great Artesian Basin Strategic Management Plan 2018. The project was undertaken at the same time as the first round of bore inventory. The inventory informs the program of work of the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative and documents the outcome of the initiative.

We highly value landholders contribution, knowledge shared with us and the relationships formed during the field work stage of the project.

Hydrogeological and ecological data collected during the project are summarised in the Hydrogeology and ecology survey report (PDF, 5673.49 KB). The report defines the surveys and provides a summary of the results, then documents each of the spring visited. The survey outcomes are two folds.

  • It validates historical knowledge on the presence or absence of springs and provides information on the condition of the springs at the time of the survey.
  • It also provides a baseline dataset so we can monitor changes over time and undertake additional studies to refine the understanding of the springs and support the management of the springs.

Increased knowledge and understanding of the Basin and its springs helps us to better manage the Great Artesian Basin. The data collected was used to build an understanding on the mechanism of each of the springs by defining the source of groundwater supporting the spring where possible.  The work uses several lines of approach. Some of the result have a high level of confidence, other results come with more uncertainty. This work will be used to scope the next round of GAB spring field work and define more adapted management measures for the protection of the GAB springs.